Last updated: 8 February, 2014

Blaze kills 15 pilgrims in Saudi holy city hotel

A fire at a hotel in the Saudi holy city of Medina on Saturday killed 15 pilgrims and injured 130 others, state-run news agency SPA reported.

Officials quoted by SPA did not identify the victims but said around 700 pilgrims had been staying at the hotel in the western city of Medina to perform the omra, or minor, pilgrimage.

An earlier toll said 12 people were killed in the blaze.

Television stations in Egypt said Egyptians were among those who perished, and foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said Cairo was “still trying to confirm the numbers” of nationals who died.

The fire broke out in the afternoon and was brought under control a few hours later, with survivors moved to other hotels in the city.

Authorities have launched an investigation into the cause of the blaze.

Once a year Muslims perform the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, but they can make the omra pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia all year round.